05
Nov
09

The Autumn Leaves: Boating off the water…

As the old song says…”The Autumn Leaves….drift by my window…”.  Not only have they drifted, but they have landed and are at the curb waiting for pickup.

In the meantime, I’ve been spending more time practicing my trombone in the evening, and more time in the workshop working on all things boat related.  I have even made a list as to what I need to achieve before next boating season.  IE; Fix and restore 1958 Johnson CD-15 5hp, 1957 Evinrude 35hp, 1950 Johnson QD-11 (Under Way), 1950 TD-20 (completed), 1948 Gambles Hiawatha 5hp, and a 195? Firestone 3.6hp.  Also on the agenda is stripping the inside of the 1949 Thompson and getting new varnish inside her passenger area.  After all this is done, work can begin on the 1959 Alumacraft.

As mentioned, I have finished a nice little 1950 TD-20 Johnson 5hp outboard.  It came to me in a strange way.  A fellow walks in a local marine dealer…no this is not a joke, as there is no priest or rabbi involved…and wanted to trade this poor old thing in for a new motor.  He’d had the recoil replaced, and the thing would run for a while…then die.

Well the owner of the marina has done some of my motor block work and knows I like old motors.  He didn’t want the thing and gave this fellow my number.  The guy calls me up and asks me to come look at it.

Well I go to this fellows house…and not only is the motor beat up…it’s seized up.  I chuckled when he told me he just put 40 bucks in the motor for a new recoil.  Clearly this guy was frustrated…really just plain ticked.

“How much will you give me for it?!?!” the guy asked.

“Well…it might sell for 30 bucks at a swap meet in this condition.”

He says “Give me 40 bucks for it so I can recoup what I just put in the recoil, and I’ll let you have.”

Okay…I knew this was a tad high, but the guy seemed nice enough, and I had fallen in love with a TN-27 at Pokagon State Park Lodge.  The motor at least had the possibility of running again at best case, and being a nice non-running relic at worst case.  So I shelled out the 40 clams.  The guy was happy.  I wasn’t sure where I stood on the matter.

So home to tear into this thing.  As usual a consultation on the AMOCI forum was the first step.  A fellow there named Lloyd alerted me to the fact that the primer for the carb has a tendency to leak fuel due to worn out leather washers in the primer pump.  He sold the washers with instructions…so I bought them when we met at the Constantine, MI AMOCI meet.

Well I had a helluva time getting the little brass tube that holds these washer in the primer of the carb out.  Penetrating oil, PB Blaster, WD-40…nothing budged this brass tube in the Tillotson carb primer pump.  Lloyd checked in and assured me it should come right out.  If not he would assist in finding another carburetor body for me.

Now I really am thinking…what fresh hell is this motor!

Finally one day a week or two later, while picking at the tube…with a little heat from a torch and some patience…headway came about….it moved and eventually was free from 50+ years of gum  and varnish.  New leather washers were installed and the carb reassembled.  In the meantime the flywheel was pulled and the ignition cleaned up and reworked.  When I popped the flywheel…miricles of miricles…the pistons also broke free and the motor turned.  Go figure.

I did a bit of work on the lower unit to seal it up with new seals and a fresh load of Lubriplate 105, since this is a non shift outboard.  FORWARD ONLY!  And you better be pointed away from the dock.

After re-assembly, I found the motor ran erratically.  A fuel issue it appeared.  Indeed the cork float was saturated.  The carb was removed again, and the float dipped in Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer left over from the Thompson.  This penetrates into the cork and seals it better than varnish or airplane hot dope.

Reassembled the carb and the motor tuned fine now…except for a few leaks in the fuel tank.

It seems that when the tank was sandblasted by a local shop, they used “a LITTLE too much pressure” and apparently the medium of choice was railroad ballast/stone.  I patched the holes with JB Weld.  then set about filling the dents.

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The dents in the tank were filled with light weight body filler.

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The entire tank needed body work.

Next came sanding.  LOTS of sanding.  Sanding with a pad sander, then an orbital sander, then by hand.  And just when you think its perfect…sand some more!

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Now the tank was ready for a coat of self-etching primer.

After trying some expensive self etching primer from the local paint supply house, I found it did not work well at all.  However, for 9.00 at NAPA, I found Duplicolor Self Etching primer.  This stuff seems to really work.  But we’ll see how it holds up in the water.

Paint was ordered from NY Marine at http://www.nymarine.ca/.  Peter sells paint that is a dead match for all the Johnson, Evinrude, and other popular outboards.  At first the 19.99 for a spray can was hard to swallow, but good things have been said about his paint…so I thought I’d give it a try.  It works very much like lacquer.  Very forgiving and very hard when dried completely.  The color is perfect too.  He also sells decals for this motor, so I ordered those as well.

The last issue with the motor is the recoil.  It has three tiny little springs that keep the pawls extended to grab the recoil when pulled.  Then when the motor is running, these pawls swing in due to centrifugal force.  The problem is…they were all missing.  An article was passed around the AMOCI Forum about making your own rather than buying them…so I did…using a guitar string, a screw with the head cut of and a notch cut down its middle.  The sting is wrapped around the screw…and presto!  Recoil spring!

StarterPawls2

The springs are wrapped around the little poles where the pawls pivot on top of the flywheel.

Next all old flaking paint was sanded or blasted off with a soda blaster.  Then primer and paint…and decals too.

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Our little 1950 TD-20 is finished and ready for service. She is pictured hanging here on my 1959 Alumacraft FDR.

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The Helmsman's controls left to right: Stop, Slow, Start, Fast. To go in reverse, turn the entire motor 360 degrees!

To protect the decals, a clear coat of automotive lacquer was applied.  Several coats later, she was shiny and new looking.

This may be a nice little motor for trolling along the Maumee River for a sunset cruise next spring.

Work is underway on the 1950 Johnson QD-11.  These are great little 10hp motors, and a blog with be forth coming on it soon.

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2 Responses to “The Autumn Leaves: Boating off the water…”


  1. 1 johnny
    May 27, 2015 at 11:47 am

    I have one of them what are they worth it is a 3 hp

    • 2 conductorjonz
      June 25, 2015 at 7:05 pm

      If it is the smaller…lower horsepower version of this motor it is a 2.5 hp. Nice little motors. Not real valuable. I used to buy them for anywhere between $5 and $75 depending on condition and if it ran or not.

      Oddly…my $5 HD 20 is a helluva runner and has saved my butt more times than I’d care to say. She is fully restored and a sweet motor.

      In 1953 they went to a green 3hp JW series. Again…great little motors in the same price range.

      Good luck!


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